The shanties of around 200 people of Mangata Jogi tribe with men, women and children from Sultanpur district of Uttar Pradesh are living in Devkar Vasti in Bhosari for last five years. They keep on moving from one state to another selling ornaments of steel and resort to begging for their livelihood. It’s a tribe living in utter poverty.
“We keep on moving from one place to another to survive. For ages we are involved in selling steel ornaments of rings and bangles and begging. Our community doesn’t have a permanent home. We don’t have houses or electricity. We have to buy water at Rs 5 per bucket from locals and to recharge our phones we have to pay Rs 10 to locals. For making temporary huts we pay Rs 350 per hut a month to the land owner,” says 38-year-old Santram Jogi.
Kalawati (26) who was preparing food for children said, “We work hard to make ends meet and when we don’t make money we beg. It’s an age old tradition of our tribe and that’s why we are called ‘Mangata’ (one who begs). We know it is not respectable but what can we do, we don’t have anything.”
When Kalawati and others were asked about Independence Day, they gave blank looks. But one of them said, “Modi ko batao ki gareeb log hain hum, kuch madad karein hamari (Tell Prime Minister Modi about our poverty, he should help us).”
According to Renke Commission Report, 2008, 11 per cent of the country’s population comprises NT/DNT but still they are invisible in their own country. The commission stated: “It is an irony that these somehow escaped the attention of our Constitution makers and thus got deprived of the Constitutional support unlike Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.”
Maina Gonde (30) of Bhatke Joshi lives with her community in hutments at Banachawada at Mayur Palace in Bhosari. Most of the women of this tribe stitch quilts for a livelihood. Maina told Sakal Times, “We walk 20 to 25 kms per day from house to house for quilt stitching just for Rs 100 to 150. Sometimes after travelling long we don’t get work.”
About the education of her children, she said, “We cannot afford schools. We hardly managed to afford home, water and electricity for which we pay Rs 1,000 per month. For water we pay Rs 10 per bucket. We don’t have any ration card but yes we have Aadhaar Card.”
While asked about Independence Day She said, “I don’t’ know what it is.”
Bhatke Joshi is a community which wanders around with an ox addressed as Nandi and forecasts the fortune of people for a living.
Shreemant Salunkhe (60) said, “We earn up to Rs 20 to 250 by wandering with Nandi. We don’t have ration cards. But we have Aadhaar cards which we can show to the police if questioned.”
Santosh Jadhav, an activist working among NT/DNTs said, “Around 50 per cent of women in Bhatke Joshi tribes are separated due to rampant alcoholism among the men. The government never pays attention to these tribes because of which they are living in such a dire state.”
Some 100 metres ahead, there is a small settlement of Chittodiya community. They earns their livelihood by selling medicinal herbs in tents and keep on travelling across the country.
Talking to Sakal Times, Shanti Chittodiya (40) said, they don’t receive any reservations. She said, “I have voting cards of three different places. Local politicians came and arranged for that and pay us Rs 500 for our votes.”
When asked about Independence Day, she said, “I know that the country got Independence on this day, but for us it is all the same.”
Vaishali Bhandwalkar of Nirman Sanstha, an organisation working with NT/DNTs for more than a decade said, “The people from NT/DNT like Birsa Munda or Umaji Naik have fought for Independence but they are hardly known for their heroic deeds. Similarly people from NT/DNT even after 72 years of Independence have not received what they deserve. They become invisible in this country.”
Bhalchandra Sawant, a member of the NT/DNT said, “British declared NT/DNT as criminal tribes but even after repealing the act the condition has not changed. Nobody cares about them, neither government nor people because of which they are living a dreadful life with no hope for improvement.”
There are many tribes Nathjogi, Pardhi, Ramoshi, Vaidu, Kanjarbhat, Bhatke Joshi, Berad, Ramoshi, Dhangar, Bhamta, Kolhatidombari Kaikadi, Banjara and others who are struggling for their existence.